Hiring a caterer is a risky business. We always have unrealistic expectations. We believe that a dish prepared for dozens of people, or even hundreds, will taste as if it’s been meticulously created for one. And so we forgive, and say, “hey, this is really good for a catered meal.”
There is a new kid on the block who has cracked the code. Toben Kochman, Executive Chef and Founder of Toben Food by Design, has an impressive culinary history. By the age of seventeen he had already worked in numerous restaurants that enabled him to meet the requirements for admission to the Cordon Bleu School of Culinary Arts in Paris. While there, he was awarded the Grand Diplome du Cordon Bleu for excellence in all aspects of the program. At the two star Michelin restaurant Apiscius in Paris he was promoted to “Tourneau” Chef du Cuisine. Back in Toronto, Susur Lee hired him as one of his operating sous chefs, and Toben continued to absorb culinary skills.
I met Toben at a luncheon to launch BACKSTAGE, a new condo being developed on the Esplanade. Symbolic of the good taste of the developers, Cityzen Developments Sam Crignano, Fernbrook Homes and Castlepoint Realty Partners Ltd., they launched their showroom at 22 The Esplanade with a luncheon prepared by Kochman, Executive Chef at TFBD Catering. While I really liked the condo, it was the food story that caught my attention. Delectable presentations indeed, but it is the brilliant and honest flavors that are the mark of a talented chef. Though I am a carnivore at heart, his rendition of tofu has a fighting chance of swaying my affections.
The photos speak for themselves.
No surprise that TFBD has put out a line of prepared foods. I could hardly wait to try them. I make excuses and apologies if occasionally I serve “store-bought” prepared food. My cupboard and fridge are bare of cans, jars and plastic containers, and I have a vast repertoire of fast, cooking-methods-from-scratch. I am particularly proud of my own soups. Until now. I had a revelation when I chanced to try Good For You Gourmet Foods. They astonished and delighted me. The Lovely Leek Potato and Mushroom Soup is artfully seasoned so that the sum of its parts is a smooth and delicious oneness. A bowl of Magic Bean Minestrone is an alchemists antidote for snow and cold. A cup of Cauliflower and Roasted Red Pepper Soup begins slowly and evenly and finishes with a surprising kick. There are brownies, four kinds of banana bread, tomato jam and aromatic miso glaze which I found gave salmon trout an unusual depth of flavour.
I could go on, but why spoil your surprise of discovery.
Next time you go to Bruno’s, Kitchen Table, Nortown or Harvest Wagon, pick up one of these Good For You products, and let me know if you agree with me.
TOBEN Food By Design Catering & Good for You Gourmet Foods: www.tobenfoodbydesign.com